considering the bullfinch

I was having an afternoon when I was feeling real low, things where getting me down, looking out the study window when I notice a whirr of wings by the window box of violas and pansies and a female bullfinch appears in our yard, a moment of grace because I have never noticed a bullfinch in our yard before. What was weird about this bullfinch was that I was just about to head up to the post office to post a book I had sold to a lady in the US, a book of Irish birds with a little hand doodled card of a bullfinch in the tree on the Lagan towpath, the only other time I had spotted one round these parts.So I doodled another picture of the bullfinch standing on a bottle of Magners/Bulmer, resting from eating Helen’s pansies and violas. This might seem strange but sometimes I think God sends birds as gentle reminders of things.


the sky at night

Emptying the bin tonight I looked up at the night sky and was mindful of a quote by Vincent van Gogh.

‘At present I absolutely want to paint a starry sky. It often seems to me that night is still more richly coloured than the day; having hues of the most intense violets, blues and greens. If only you pay attention to it you will see that certain stars are lemon-yellow, others pink or a green, blue and forget-me-not brilliance. And without my expatiating on this theme it is obvious that putting little white dots on the blue-black is not enough to paint a starry sky.”

He is right – the sky over Lambeg is alive with colour and some white noise city light pollution.


the tow path

Mrs Canal Ways got me thinking about why I record songs and then squirrel them away from friends and family while I put them up in the corners of cyberspace that most people don’t see.
It’s probably pride I guess. When its strangers you don’t really know if they’re just being nice but the closer people get to you the easier it is to read them (or think you can read them).
So basically it’s a bit nerve wrecking to put them to general public scrutiny, but far worse to them to family and friends scrutiny.

It would be easier if I could write songs that were less impersonal and beyond me and my world, but I can’t do it. So what do you?
Sit back and do nothing? Well,I guess not. Sometimes you’ve just got to write songs and put them out there.


suffering servant

One of the things that is hardest for me to accept about the Christian walk is the truth of being a servant, a suffering servant at that. This grates against my natural tendencies to want the easy life and power, to be a somebody that people look up to and respect. I don’t crave to be someone who is not noticed and appreciated, to be undervalued by society and my peers despite (and maybe especially because) of doing the right thing.Yes this is hard truth.

A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

1 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

It’s just not on my natural game plan, I don’t want pain or suffering,I don’t want servanthood.
Yet its the way things are to be done, the way Jesus lived it so we Christians are to follow as well.

home economics


It’s not that I haven’t been short of things to write about here on the blog, but rather there is a thicket of thoughts to hack through and make sense of. So many things to repent about and good things I could be doing, but instead the tug between everything results in me doing nothing and inertia, or movement paralysis.
I’ve also been busy drawing again, nothing amazing but just drawing little cards and things.
Also food. I think food is a way for me to engage with the world in a positive Kingdom way. It’s just hard to explain that to people.
But perhaps the far better way would be to stick at learning to bake nice bread and give it to people, or make nice soup and have people over to the house for a bit of banter. Like we all need to eat food, we don’t all need to write or draw. Daily bread and food. Vincent van Gogh said something like ‘A good picture is equivalent to a good deed. ‘ – and it is. Yet food and eating is more universal, a thing that we hold in common with our neighbours whoever they are.

So what this long rambling post is trying to say is that I’m fascinated by food at the moment. At night I like nothing more than curling up to sleep with a cookery book. I’ve been building up a small collection of books the last year or so and you can never have enough.

I’ve built up a plan of the way I’d like to go. For the base seasonal veg/fruit and wholegrains/pulses then build on that.
I reckon that if I want to eat healthy thats the way to go, but its easier said than done. Many of the cookery books aren’t written that way or aren’t organised that way. The think that is hardest is how to organise the recipes into a useful way to eat properly and with as little waste as possible. Thats m dilema. Part of me would like to cut up all the cookery books and arrange them into a big master folder that would sit in a useful place, sort of like a book of spells.

This is a drawing by Vincent van Gogh of a girl carrying a loaf of bread in case anyone is wondering.


computer idols

Perhaps the computer room in Belfast Central library is like a temple, with men bowing and praying to these gods of silicon and glass?
I’ve always imagined temples with idols, carved from wood and stone and human prostrating themselves before them in prayer and meditation, hoping to appease the gods by saying the right words and be blessed by them.

Yet here we sit typing words into a god of circuitry and processors hoping for love or relationship, for the right job or connections.
Just because the PC doesn’t l0ok like an idol in the traditional sense, does that mean that it isn’t?
Do we worship our machines and think that they offer us salvation?

And we become like the idols we worship don’t we?
We become passive….

 their idols are plastic and silicon,
   made by human hands. (perhaps in some factory in the Far East with cheap labour)
5 They have speakers, but cannot speak,  
   webcams, but cannot see.
6 They have microphones, but can’t hear, 
   fans, but can’t smell.
7 They have keys, but cannot type, 
   are mopile, but cannot walk,
   nor can they utter a sound with their speakers.
8 Those who make them will be like them,
   and so will all who trust in them.

 Even messing around with Psalm 115 a bit makes me feel uneasy because computers do seem so powerful. It appears they can see, they can hear, they aren’t like the passive idols of old that didn’t. They really seem like gods, like something different and more dangerous than the idols that sat on an alter and did nothing. There seems to be some type of magic in the web and networks that humans have constructed, that they are their own stand alone beings, something that was always destined to be and we must respect.

Yet, we can’t lose sight of the fact that they are man made objects, they’re not God. They’re not the gods that will bless me in life. Giving cheap laptops to kids in Africa won’t heal that land, being able to manipulate the computer won’t make us rich.



I read this line today in this book and it got me thinking about security.

‘We are daily beating our ploughshares into swords and our pruning hooks into spears in the name of the false good ‘security’

The question that kept repeating to myself was ‘Is security really a false god?’. After some thought on the streets of Belfast I had to agree – security is an awful false god.

In many ways the thoughts about security started last week when I got lambasted by extended family members on my lack of direction in life. After they had shouted at me about my hair length  and on and on they asked what I would like to do. I said that I would quite like to be an organic farmer but they laughed in derision saying that I needed to find something that paid because there was no money in organic farming.

When I countered that as a Christian there are more important things than money they recoiled in horror saying that you needed money to pay for heating oil and so you can give money to the poor.

Not that there reaction is that surprising given that the eldest grandson is drifting so badly in life yet perhaps their reaction had just as much to do with their fears than mine?

Today I realised the connection between their reaction (which has been a common theme growing up) and  much of the competitive, self seeking  lives that people and nations lead. It’s the struggle security. It’s fairly obvious when I type it now, but the word ‘security’ has eluded me until now.

Members of my extended family (rightly) want to know that they are secure, that I am secure  but value and fear the false god of security more than the God who is our security, our strong tower. The god of security must be obeyed and sacrifices laid at his alter.

How much of our lives is spent in a battle to be secure?
How much do we worry when we’re not secure?

We want security from pain, suffering, death, being hurt.
We want to be secure in the knowledge that we and our loved ones will be allowed to flourish.
So we want money because having it will afford us some level of security and give our loved ones a greater chance to flourish.
We have security forces , alarms and warning signs, health insurance.

Yet these things fail us because no matter how much we worship them they can’t make us truly secure, they’re false gods.  How did I miss this before?